The Cordova Gardens project was designed by artist Trude Parkinson with landscape architect Michael Dollin. Parkinson and Dollin worked closely with members of the community and representatives from the Cordova Neighborhood Association, and they involved students from Cordova School in the design process. Students that worked with Parkinson and Dollin from January through June, 1991 included Christopher Boyd, Liz Casarez, Craig Cariffe, Robert Castillo, Jay Chapman, Daniel Contreras, Wayne Daily Jr., Keisha Heflin, Shenae Kasey, Christina Leschniok, Marcus Lewis, Steven Lomax, Victor Pallares, Eddie Pulido, John Staup, and Bennie Wells. Parkinson and Dollin incorporated the student designs into a plan which was presented and approved in a series of community meetings.
The project developed a seven empty median islands into a series of gardens with artistic features. The medians were the site of an ancient Hohokam canal and now serve as a utility corridor for Salt River Project (SRP). The gardens contain artistic features which reflect the students' and the community's interest in recycling, history and in the future of the environmental systems that sustain our desert city. Features include colored concrete with inlaid patterns created with recycled obsolete SRP objects, sculptural trellises, bronze plaques developed from student drawings, and a milagro pole. The drawings are based on Hohokam petroglyphs symbolizing water and energy. The milagro pole (Spanish for “miracle"), includes images made by students, objects collected from the community and objects donated by SRP. Parkinson worked again with Cordova students and Cordova art teacher Susan Hartnet in 1998 to create the milagros for the project. The milagros express the students wishes and aspirations for themselves, their families and their community.